IS STIGMA ON IT’S WAY OUT? The Oscars “Do It” For the Cause
" We will never have true civilization until we have learned to recognize the rights of others" - Will Rogers
Watching the Oscars last night at the start was bittersweet. At the announcements by the Academy weeks prior to the event most of us knew there wouldn’t be much of a showing of the movies this year by African American directors, actors, costume and set designers, composers, or anything remotely close to a nod for the hard work so many do. I was watched in support of the collaboration of Common and John Legend’s “Glory”. As I sat ready to cringe at all of the “bad jokes” and camera pans of emotional faces of those who would win the “gold” a tide I couldn’t see was rolling in.
There was a momentum picking up, subtly at first and then like a freight train it was off!
Ellen Gooseberg Kent and Dana Perry spoke up to suicide as they accepted their Oscar for "Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1". Dana Perry said, “We should talk about suicide out loud.” Perry mentioned her son, Evan Scott Perry, committed suicide at age 15 in 2005, and she dedicated her Oscar to him.
Graham Moore during his acceptance speech said, “When I was 16 years old, I tried to kill myself because I felt weird and I felt different and I felt like I did not belong," he told the audience, "…and now I am standing here.
Common and John Legend spoke about the struggle still going on for civil rights today and billions of people across the globe heard the solidarity, “we see you…we are with you…” John Legend spoke to the number of incarcerated African American men as, “more black men under correctional control today then in slavery in 1850” as they accepted their Oscar for “Best Original Song”.
Julianne Moore won “best actress” for “Still Alice” a movie about an Alzheimer’s sufferer, and during her acceptance speech said, “…people with Alzheimer’s deserve to be seen so that we can find a cure.” Overall there was much to swoon over in the area of public awareness.
Patricia Arquette’s pleas for women’s rights and her comments, “…we have fought for everybody else’s equal rights, it’s our time to wage equality, to have equal rights for women in the United States of America…” Although as a woman I stand with her in that belief, as a woman of color I wonder how she feels it’s time to direct attention from “equality” in terms of civil rights and the fact that so many men of color, namely African American men are incarcerated…I wonder how John Legend’s acceptance speech would have resonated if he’d said, “…we still continue to fight for fair wages and jobs for African Americans. We have helped to build this country and it’s time we have equal rights. We have watched everyone else get their turn at fairness including women’s rights now it’s our turn to have equal rights in the United States of America.” Normally “civil rights” are synonymous with African Americans right? Especially at a time when we are witnessing one of the biggest civil rights movements since the 60's "Black Lives Matter".
Although her intentions were to raise awareness and her passion in the moment as she held the Oscar empowered her, and I’m sure her intentions were to “rally” the masses; how could she even compare the struggle of women’s rights to fair wage when women of color still earn less than their white counterparts?
I haven’t seen unarmed feminist being gunned down in the streets at an alarming rate, and police officers getting paid money by citizens for murdering unarmed feminists (the officer in Fergurson retired a millionaire after citizens set up an account and raised money for him after shooting and killing unarmed Michael Brown) So to address the “subtleties”, that I’m sure in the height of her emotions she hadn’t considered, of the climate that exist today and critics of the “Black Lives Matter” movement; the comment would appear in poor taste and bad judgment.
It’s not to say we don’t agree. We don’t have to put down our picket signs to carry those of the “Wage Equality” movement in order to be in support. Wage equality has been our fight all along in addition to the other “causes” that affect and have affected people of color since our arrival to America. This is not a new movement it is one that “overlaps” and affects women of all races. In the words of Maya Angelou, "It is impossible to struggle for civil rights, equal rights for blacks, without including whites. Because equal rights, fair play, justice, are all like the air: we all have it, or none of us has it. "
This was the point where the reality kicked in that we have a ways to go in the war on Stigma and on equality period. At least it’s being talked about and at least it’s being addressed for what it is, a reality. The war on Stigma continues…